Stevan Ridley, right, celebrates with family and friends after getting drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots. (Michael Kerekes The Natchez Democrat)

Patriots select Ridley No. 73

Published 12:01am Saturday, April 30, 2011

NATCHEZ — Carolyn Ridley has seen her family go through the valley.

But with the Lord’s guiding hand, Carolyn said God has moved her family to the peak of a mountain and given them a platform to share His faithfulness and love.

That platform will include Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., where her son Stevan will be starting his NFL career with the New England Patriots.

The Patriots selected Stevan in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft Friday night after trading with the Houston Texans for the No. 73 pick. For Carolyn, the news was God’s way of showing Himself true to His word.

“The struggles our family has had are no secret,” Carolyn said. “He’s taken the ashes and made something beautiful.

“He just gives the best to those who leave the decisions up to Him. His mercies are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness.”

Since Stevan already won a state championship at Trinity Episcopal and a BCS National Championship at LSU, the only thing left for him is a Super Bowl ring, he said.

“I’m really excited,” Stevan said said. “Right now, all I’m thinking is Super Bowl. They’re always in the running every year. They have Tom Brady and a lot of weapons, people who know how to win.

“I’m just going to learn from them. I’ll be playing with the best of the best.”

Although the Patriots had expressed interest in Stevan throughout the draft process, the selection of University of California running back Shane Vereen in the second round gave Stevan some doubts, he said.

“That threw me off a little,” he said. “But they told me they liked me, and now, all the hard work has paid off.”

One pick after Stevan was taken, the Patriots traded with the Vikings for the No. 74 pick and drafted Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett. Ridley said he’ll fly out to Atlanta this morning and meet with Mallett before heading up to Foxborough, Mass.

“He was actually with me when I visited the Patriots,” Ridley said. “We were just sitting there talking, and now he’s going to be on the same team as me.

“Everyone wants to talk about his off-the-field issues, but he’s a great player. They’re trying to bring him up behind Tom Brady.”

Trinity football coach David King said he was doing yard work when he heard the news, and rushed over to Stevan’s house as soon as he found out.

“The Lord is good,” King said. “To know what that boy’s been through and how hard he’s worked, this couldn’t have happened to a better family.

“They said he couldn’t play college ball or SEC ball, and they’ll say he can’t play in the pros, but I think in three or four years he probably be a Pro Bowler. That’s just the kind of kid he is.”

Stevan said his success in football should show any young athlete from Natchez that they can accomplish anything they want — as long as they’re willing to work for it.

“Hard work and dedication will take you anywhere,” Stevan said. “If they say you can’t achieve something, they’re lying to you. You can.”

And true to his nature, Stevan said he’s not going to take anything for granted now that he’s in the NFL.

“It’s time to go produce. I’m not going to be satisfied until I do,” he said.

Ridley leaves for Foxborough at 6:30 this morning from Baton Rouge.

  • http://twitter.com/delwhitley1 Delores Whitley

    Go Stevan I know that this feels like Christmas and your Birthday wrapped all in one. Congratultions to you and your family. “Hey” Carolyn. To all of you that clicked on furious, what are you furious about? “Don’t be mad, just get like him.” I will be cheering for ya……..

  • Anonymous

    Furious? No, it’s more like YAWN….Brady has such redeeming qualities also. You used to be able to look up to people in the pros. Now it’s more like tweedle dee and tweelde dum. Still some good ones, but for the most part it’s, “What have you done for me lately”.About the only good thing to come out of this, I won’t have to look at that LSU uniform every week.

  • tigereye1

    yea it’s far better to look at that cowardly blue and red the Ole Miss ” Black Bears ” wear huh !!!!! Losers

  • Anonymous

    Carolyn- I am happy for you and your family. I have watched Stevan play for LSU. My mom who works at Parkway there also has watched him every game that was on TV. I am proud of you Stevan. Keep up the good work and make Natchez proud. Remember “With God all things are possible.”

  • Anonymous

    Carolyn- I am happy for you and your family. Way to go Stevan, I have watched you play for LSU and rooted you on. My mom who works at Parkway also cheered for you when he would watch you on TV. Remember “With God all things are possilbe.” I am rooting for you when you play for the Patriots.

  • Anonymous

    Continued success to this young man . Just proves what determination and hard work can accomplish . Good luck guy !!

  • vilou09

    This is pretty great news.
    With that said, I have to ask… I keep reading that Stevan was “in the ashes” and he’s “been through so much.”
    What has happened to him in his life? I’m curious, because I’ve grown up there all my life and the past 8 years I’ve been familiar with Ridley, but I’ve never heard of anything horrible happening to him. Just the opposite, actually.
    Someone fill me in, please.

  • Anonymous

    Wrong colors again. Wouldn’t spit on either school if on fire. Who cares who I root for? Do you really care, or are you just goading me on? I didn’t see LSU or OLE MISS colors playing for a Nat’l Championship! But then Mark Ingram wears some pretty good colors too. The mascot..now who is..well, I believe it is the elephant. Then we have MSU, they did pretty well with Mullins, and USM, well, to be honest I don’t watch their conference. I’m pretty much all SEC. Did I throw you? Or you thini you know now?

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations Stevan! Please represent Natchez and your family well.

  • Anonymous

    Good luck man. I don’t know you or your family. but wishing you all the best. You must be a really good kid and fighter too. Please don’t let the comment that was removed discourage you, there are some cruel people in this world, but I THANK GOD FOR THE RAM IN THE BUSH, AND YOU DO THE SAME.

  • Anonymous

    Ask the people that went to high school and were around him in early LSU years. I will not put it on this site. That is too much. His mom has been thru enough.It would be interesting to see if people now still hold accountable for his actions, or if all of this hooplah has made it obsolete.There have been people on here saying kids will be kids, but in this case, he should’ve been held accountable.

  • Anonymous

    tigereye1

    cowardly? Did you ever wear the “sacred” purple and gold”? Like I said before, Not an Ole Miss fan, BUT! Ole Miss can wipe LSU all over the field and back! Which by the way, haven’t you basically said the same of me that I will not give my name…post your’s when you post something like that. I intensely dislike small little men that use analogies such as you did to get their point across. You didn’t get anything across other than the fact you are tacky.